Draft prep: Free agents to be

Rams running back Steven Jackson said it best when asked about his motivation for the 2008 season.

"Well, we all know what happens in a contract year: you ball out," Jackson said. "So, I expect to."

Money is one of two motivators for football players (the other, for most of them, is winning). Time and time again it's been proven that when a player has a chance to cash in with a long-term deal with lots of guaranteed money, he does everything in his power to play well. Big production equals big bucks.

One such example is Shaun Alexander , who, in a contract year in 2005, had a career-best 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, then a record for most scores in a season from a non-quarterback. Alexander then got paid handsomely the following offseason and logged two poor campaigns that saw him total just over 1,600 rushing yards and 11 scores. Alexander is now contemplating his next career move.

A player playing for a contract will fight hard through a minor nagging injury, while a player who got rewarded might not fight as hard (or even suit up) with the same injury. That's why Fantasy Football owners should always be aware of players who just got paid, and players who are in a contract year.

We've kept track of the players who signed new contracts this offseason, but with the 2008 season on the horizon, we thought it would be a good idea to let you in on the notable players who are not signed past this year. Expect the motivation of these players to be amped up since so much is at stake for them.

Player Team 2009 status
Kyle Boller Ravens UFA
Jeff Garcia Buccaneers UFA
Rex Grossman Bears UFA
J.P. Losman Bills UFA
J.T. O'Sullivan 49ers UFA
Kurt Warner Cardinals UFA
Running Backs
Player Team 2009 status
Tatum Bell Lions UFA
Correll Buckhalter Eagles UFA
Andre Hall Broncos EXRFA
Fred Jackson Bills EXRFA
Brandon Jacobs Giants UFA
Maurice Morris Seahawks UFA
Darren Sproles Chargers UFA
Ricky Williams Dolphins UFA
Wide Receivers
Player Team 2009 status
Drew Carter Raiders UFA
Lee Evans Bills UFA
Jabar Gaffney Patriots UFA
T.J. Houshmandzadeh Bengals UFA
Bryant Johnson 49ers UFA
Shaun McDonald Lions UFA
Amani Toomer Giants UFA
Nate Washington Steelers UFA
Jeff Webb Chiefs RFA
Demetrius Williams Ravens RFA
Roy Williams Lions UFA
Roydell Williams Titans UFA
Tight Ends
Player Team 2009 status
Jeff King Panthers UFA
Leonard Pope Cardinals RFA
L.J. Smith Eagles UFA
Notable Defenders
Player Team 2009 status
Nnamdi Asomugha Raiders UFA
Channing Crowder Dolphins UFA
Rodney Harrison Patriots UFA
Sean Jones Browns UFA
Ray Lewis Ravens UFA
Julius Peppers Panthers UFA
Mike Peterson Jaguars UFA
Jermaine Phillips Buccaneers UFA
Bart Scott Ravens UFA
Darren Sharper Vikings UFA
Jonathan Vilma Saints UFA
Note: UFA -- unrestricted free agent; RFA -- restricted free agent; EXRFA: exclusive rights free agent

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Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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